The Skagway team celebrates after upsetting Klawock in the semifinals. Jeff Brady
Skagway upsets Klawock, but SE volleyball championship eludes Panthers
By JEFF BRADY
With a raucous home crowd cheering every point, the Skagway High volleyball team delivered a stunner during the semifinals of the SE Region 2A Tournament, knocking off the powerful Klawock Chieftains for the first time since 2005.
However, Klawock came back through the loser’s round to face Skagway again in the double elimination format. Needing to beat the Panthers twice to defend its title, the Chieftains prevailed 3-1 in both matches for its fourth straight region championship.
Most of the games between the Panthers and Chieftains were close, and the two teams were wishing their paths would cross again in the state title game this weekend in Anchorage.
“It was definitely an emotional roller coaster,” said Skagway coach Becky Jensen, after the tournament was over.
Skagway did not open the region tourney particularly well on Friday night, losing its first game to third seed Hoonah in lopsided fashion, but the Panthers rallied with some big blocks by Paige Hahn and Rori Leaverton to take control of the second game, and then got its killing machine going to win two more games for the match. Paige Hahn made some beautiful passes to high-flying Jesse Ellis for the winning points.
This set up the first meeting with Klawock the following morning, and the Skagway end of the bleachers was packed. Those who forgot their coffee didn’t really need it – the action on the floor was furious.
Skagway again started poorly, allowing Klawock freshman front-liner Cassi Williams to dominate the net. But after a 25-12 drubbing, the Panthers woke up to defend their home court. Skagway got a nice save from Emily Herbig, and Rori Leaverton strung together a tip and a block for winning points. With strong serving by Hahn a few more Ellis kills, the Panthers secured a 25-15 win.
Elise Doland digs for a return, and Jesse Ellis skies for one of her kills. JB
In the middle of the third game, things really turned Skagway’s way. The Panthers took the lead behind two kills by Kaylie O’Daniel, and were up 20-11 when Klawock coach Kelli Larson called time out.
Over in the Skagway huddle, Jensen said to her girls, “We can do this, we can!”
And the Panthers did not let up, winning the game 25-17.
But Klawock would rebound in the fourth game behind powerful serves from sisters Tess and Dani Larson for a 25-14 winner to set up a deciding fifth game.
The key for Skagway turned out to be strong serving and getting the kill slams down. The game went back and forth, but Skagway nudged ahead 11-8. During a time out, Jensen asked her girls, “Do we have the will?”
And they responded. Ellis hit two more kills and the team got a lucky break from a support beam that knocked down a shot on the Klawock side. Then Elise Doland, who had been serving strong all night, finally got an ace for the 15-10 winner, and the place went nuts.
“It was by far the best they had played all year,” Jensen said. “We had good passing and got the set up and got the hit. That’s the key ingredient: the good pass and getting the hit.”
Skagway got to relax for a few hours, knowing it had a trip to State locked up, but a probable rematch with Klawock that evening for the region title.
Skagway could only hope that they could outlast the Chieftains, who had knocked off Hoonah easily to get back to the championship match. But Klawock would have to beat Skagway twice, and the Panthers had the home court magic working.
Skagway would probably be without Leaverton who had injured her hip earlier that day, but Anna Korsmo and Amanda Jensen had put in great minutes during every game thus far.
Skagway was in good shape at the start, and the serves were clicking, but Klawock nudged ahead 23-20. Skagway caught a break when a Chieftain serve went into the net, and Skagway responded with an ace by Doland, and then another strong serve that was not returned. The teams then traded points to make it 24-24, sending Emily Herbig to the line, where she coolly scored two aces for the game winners.
The next two games were just as close, but Skagway had trouble with some of the longer Klawock serves. Despite multiple slams by Ellis, some points just did not go Skagway’s way, and they lost both games 25-23. Leaverton came back in and made a couple of points, but she was struggling through the pain. In the fourth game, the Chieftains built a big 13-6 lead, but Skagway roared back to cut the score to 23-20. A kill by Klawock’s Tori Carl and a miscue by the Panthers on a serve gave the Chieftains the match.
So they would play again. Skagway was certainly not done, as they rallied back to win the first game 25-18. But the next three games were not very close. Klawock served to big leads. Skagway rallied in each game, but it was not enough as Klawock won 25-18, 25-12, and 25-16.
Jensen said they certainly had their chances during the championship round. “It was there, but we’ve got to get our serves in. Serving is crucial.”
Skagway and Klawock should do better at State, now that 3A teams from western Alaska are no longer in the 1A-2A volleyball class. Skagway’s first match was Thursday afternoon against Seldovia.
“We lost to them at state last year,” Jensen said, “but we’re a new team this year. Everyone played awesome and we have to stay focused now and remember why we are going to Anchorage.”
She said they would love an opportunity to face Klawock again. The games are at Dimond High. For results, go to www.asaa.org.
Skagway landed four seniors on the all-academic team: Hahn, Jensen, Herbig and Doland, and Korsmo and Jensen were named to the region’s Great Sports team.
SE Region 2A Volleyball Tourney
Skagway • Dec. 4-5
Quarterfinals – Skagway def. Hoonah: 9-25, 25-18, 25-20. 25-19; Klawock def. Thorne Bay (forfeited match).
Semifinal – Skagway def. Klawock: 12-25, 25-15, 25-17, 14-25, 15-10.
Loser Round– Hoonah def. Thorne Bay: 25-9, 25-7, 25-3; Klawock def. Hoonah: 25-11, 25-14, 25-19.
Championship Round – Klawock def. Skagway: 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21; Klawock def. Skagway: 18-25, 25-12, 25-18, 25-16.
All Conference: Klawock – Tess Larson, Tori Carl, Rebecca Armour; Hoonah – Gina Norris, Shawna Barros; Thorne Bay – Samantha Taylor; Skagway – Jesse Ellis, Elise Doland.
Sportsmanship Award: Hoonah
Passing Skills Champ: Paige Hahn, Skagway
Serving Skills Champ: Mariah Martin, Hoonah
Thomas Etue gets back to State
After missing out last year, Skagway senior Thomas Etue is in Anchorage this weekend for his third state wrestling tournament appearance in four years.
Etue was seeded third in Southeast going into last weekend’s regional tournament in Petersburg, and finished in fourth place. Skagway coach Duppy Ticarro said Etue did amazingly well, considering he had been on the practice mats for only a couple days prior to the meet. The prior week he had all four wisdom teeth pulled as well as another tooth, and had to keep “icing his mouth.”
But the Skagway senior started out the region tourney with two pins before running into Haines’s Jesse Piper in the semifinals. After being pinned by Piper, Etue rallied with a win to get into the third place match with Zach Ivanoff of Mt. Edgecumbe. But by then, Etue was worn out, his coach said, and lost on a fall.
“He just did not have enough steam left,” Ticarro said. “The conditioning wasn’t there (from the dental layoff). But he did good. He ended up 14-1 in the conference and 14-3 overall.”
Ticarro was pleased with how everyone on the team wrestled. All but one of the five wrestler got at least one win at regionals (see results below), and their 26 points were second among 2A teams.
Perhaps more important, the team came home with the regional sportsmanship award among the 16 schools in the Southeast 1A-2A-3A division.
“It was pretty huge considering all the schools that were there,” Ticarro said. “It was the first time at regionals where I didn’t have to tell them how to act.”
Looking ahead to state, Ticarro said Etue should be able to snag a win or two.
“There are a lot of tough kids and seniors in his weight class (152), but he should do well,” his coach said. “He is psyched to get back to state this year.”
The state tourney is at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Dec. 10-12. For results, go to www.akmat.org and click on the 09-10 season results. – JB
The Skagway wrestling team holds its SE Sportsmanship Award and the fourth place trophy for senior Thomas Etue. From left are Ian Klupar, John Doland, Logan Weber, coach Duppy Ticarro, Etue, assistan coach Jared Henley, and Danny Moore. Photo submitted by SHS team
Region V Wrestling Tourney in Petersburg
Team scores: Mt. Edgecumbe 189, Sitka 170.5, Craig 168, Petersburg 144.5, Wrangell 103, Hoonah 102, Metlakatla 98, Haines 31, Skagway 26, Klawock 19, Yakutat 17, Thorne Bay 12.5, Hydaburg 10, Kake 4, Pelican 3, Angoon 0.
135 pounds – Danny Moore (SKG) def. Angelica Phillips (MEHS), fall; James Valentine (PET) def. Moore, fall 1:41; Moore def. Audrey Gosuk (MEHS), fall; Alex Clayton (CRG) def Moore, fall 1:50.
140 pounds – Max Hanson (SIT) def. Logan Weber (SKG), fall 3:21; Weber def. Aaron Fawcett (MET), M-dec. 9-1; Ford Curtis (WRG) def Weber, fall 1:45.
145 pounds – Robert Nick (MEHS) def. John Doland (SKG), M-dec. 15-7; Daniel Bartlett (SIT) def. Doland, 8-6 dec.
152 pounds – Thomas Etue (SKG) def. Christian Cartwright (WRG), fall; Etue def. Nathan Wagner (TB), fall 1:40; Jesse Piper (HNS) def. Etue, fall; Etue def. Mike Corl (PET) M-dec. 20-8; 3rd place match – Zach Ivanoff (MEHS) def. Etue, fall.
160 pounds – Kole Skaflestad (HNH) def. Ian Klupar (SKG), fall; Klupar def. Tyler Wallace (PET), fall; Levi Kvasnikoff (MEHS) def. Klupar, fall.